A/D-Rocky – Walker – Album Review
Buckle the fuck up y’all.
No doubt the man starts this off on the right notes – you can tell from “Awake” that A/D-Rocky puts the right amount of time & effort into his rhymes in order for his words to make an impact on us. This is insightful shit y’all – and it’s written with real perspective and a point of view that’s all his own…in that raw unfiltered style that you know you love. A/D-Rocky gives you a ton of the history behind what’s made him the man he is today…from time spent in the pen, to medications needed to level him out, to telling us to suck his dick skin – he really leaves no details out, and makes sure to include the nittiest of gritty points along the way. Call me crazy, but it’s this kind of attention to detail that I WANT to hear – and I know many of you are the same. Obviously we’re probably not all about suckin’ on dick skin (is it just me or does phrasing it that way sound like you could buy a whole bag of Frito Lay Dick Skins? Just me? Anyone else?) but to be fair, there’s much more to “Awake” than meets the eye if you’re listening closely. The beat might be supremely smooth, mellow, and chill – but the man is makin’ mincemeat of the microphone, and really laying it all out there for you to absorb, for better or worse. There’s a level of honesty in “Awake” that would take most artists an entire lifetime or career-span to achieve…and he should be seriously proud of that. He’s “been under pressure since two” – which is…well…that’s quite the memory he’s rockin’ with…I can’t remember a fuckin’ thing from my second year of life if I’m being real with ya…but hey, right on – at the end of the day, pressure forms diamonds, as they say – so shine on young blood. Keep an eye on that metering though…in the middle of this cut, slightly prior to us all being told to suck on his dick skin, A/D-Rocky’s hanging on to the tempo by a thread – I ain’t disputing that he gets there…ultimately, he does – but you can hear there’s still a few spots along the way where another syllable added or one or two less might be to his benefit when it comes to the flow. For the vast majority of what you’ll hear, the dude’s on-point, hittin’ his bars with genuine swagger and style.
Musically speaking – I freakin’ loved what I heard on “Awake” already right off the drop, but the beat he’s working with on “Imperfect” took it to a whole other level completely…it just sounds SO DAMN GOOD y’all – you can’t help but turn a track like this up to the rafters where it belongs, at max volume. Lyrically & vocally, A/D-Rocky is crushin’ it once again with supreme rhythm & flow that practically rivals the music…pointing out the hypocrisies that exist within our society…and all I can say is that the man ain’t wrong with his observations. Specifically, he’s calling out the medical community to a degree on “Imperfect” & how we tend to prescribe away our pain rather that actually deal with it. #HeAintWrong. So…our hero here…smartly paired a cut that’s actually pretty damn deep, with a sound that’s both fun & sounds like you’ve found your way to the cloud level to collect some coins while you dream in a medicated daze. I’ve been there – and no joke, it sounds just like “Awake.” Where he’s gotta watch out or add in a bit more caution, is layin’ down the big boast’n line about how he had to stop rappin’ because it was all goin’ too fuckin’ good…Rap/Hip-Hop is pretty much infamous for that, and that’s all well & good – but if that’s what’s up & how you feel about it all, you gotta make sure everything else is 100% tighter-than-tight & completely bulletproof…and right in the verse around the 1:45-ish mark, you can hear A/D-Rocky trippin’ over his words not too long afterwards. Same thing I was tellin’ ya about in the opening cut “Awake” – it’s just a matter of really being objective and knowing when that extra syllable might be needed, and when to take a couple away. A/D-Rocky is capable of quite the flow when it comes right down to it…we can hear he’s got all kinds of speeds to work with, which is awesome – you want that kind of cache to pull from. I’m gonna advocate on behalf of the guy giving himself a bit more space…you can hear how the metering issues smooth right out when he dials back a bit from max speed.
If you tuned into the last episode of the SBS Podcast before we took our summer break, you had a chance to check out a cut from this record in advance of this review, called “It’ll All Be Over” and hear some additional thoughts I had on my first impressions of listening to A/D-Rocky’s music. Admittedly, I was just cracking the can open myself – I barely knew his music at that point, but just like I’m sure I had said on the show, “It’ll All Be Over” has the kind of sound that instantly entices you into listening to the rest…it’s brilliantly assembled and really pumps out single-worthy vibes. But to be fair to A/D-Rocky – what the hell HASN’T been that way since you started listening to Walker – am I right? EVERY cut on this record so far has proven to yield pure gold and revealed that A/D-Rocky is a verifiable force on the m-i-c. You never forget your first though, right? Ahhh yes. That’s just as true of music as it is with fuckin’ – so for myself personally, “It’ll All Be Over” is always going to have a spot on my playlist…it’s just a really damn good cut to turn up and let the stress out…I’m not necessarily saying it’s the best track you’ll find on Walker, but it’s up there for sure. A/D-Rocky’s got a real gift when it comes to knowing what kind of beats are going to really work with in tandem with his signature style…I think he’s still got a bit of work to do in terms of diversity in his vocal flow in that regard, but to be fair to the guy, it looks like he’s been putting out music for about two months or so…plenty of time to add more pieces to his verbal arsenal over time, and like I always say on these pages of ours, you want room to evolve as an artist over time. If you come out cracking the bat at 100% every time straight outta the gate, you may as well retire right afterwards…y’all should WANT room to grow – that’s genuinely the best part of making music a career. A/D-Rocky has all the right pieces in place…if he’s THIS good right off the drop, trust me when I tell ya, he should be completely encouraged to continue on the path he’s on now…he’s gonna be crushing your playlists over these next years, and if YOU could rap half as good as he does already, you’d all be doin’ it.
I’d say it’s really “Love” that shows the most cracks in the armor early on into this lineup of Walker more than the rest do. It’s a hard one to judge if I’m being real with ya…a lot of this is open to stylistic interpretation…as in, some people are gonna love it, others are gonna find a few moments are more strange. Particularly, it’s gonna the be main hook that divides the crowd a bit – personally, I get it – to me, he could probably bring a bit more fluidity & tone there, but he’s choosing specifically to get a bit wild with it. Never a problem for me – just understand that the masses tend to hear things differently than yours truly does is all. What I really liked about “Love” was that killer switch towards the last third of the track – long after the main meat of this track is over, A/D-Rocky changes it up, and gives you that uniqueness you’re looking for in the sound once again. He’s rapping a lot about his asshole throughout “Love” – so…there’s that…but yeah…at least it’s clean? It’s tough to judge, like I said – “Love” is over six minutes in length, and it’s quite the ambitious cut when you consider all that’s gone into it…I’m only pointing out all that I have been to keep the man sharp – the potential in A/D-Rocky is more than most have. I like the idea in the line of “I do not give a shit, I’m the cleanest asshole” – just not as sure about the way it actually came out…it’s one of those spots in A/D-Rocky’s rhymes that seems like it might be a bit more rushed than it really needs to be. “They say lovin’ makes the world go round, but all it does is drain your bank account” – y’all know that’s the truth. The man’s insightful, on-point, and most crucially – he flexes a pure level of innovation in that final switch with a third of the track left to go – that was the move that put “Love” into a whole other category, and revealed a clever hook in that major change-up.
“Depressed” is a solid cut too. I mean…shiiiiiiiiiiit…they ALL are really – like I said, I’m just the guy that’s gonna keep it real with ya and call things like I hear’em – but all my talkin’ aside – the reality is, for a dude this early on into his career, A/D-Rocky is flexin’ real potential that could take him a long, long way. “I’m a motherfuckin’ toxic-ass bitch” – ayyyy – I hear ya young blood…I’ve been one of those my entire life and have no plans to really change that. From the sounds of things on “Depressed” – A/D-Rocky has learned the most important thing about BEING “Depressed” – you can make that shit a super-power if you give even half a shit. Like the mighty Rage Against The Machine taught us all years ago – “your anger is a gift” – and that dear readers, dear friends…is the straight-up raw, unfiltered truth. That being said, it applies in many different ways – your depression, is ALSO a gift…it’s part of what makes you ugly, it’s part of what makes you beautiful – and it’s really all up to us as individuals as to how we use it. You could let it peel the flesh from your bones, wither up & die – or you can embrace being “a motherfuckin’ toxic-ass bitch” and get into the studio to turn that depression into some kind of ART, or at least, a way out. A/D-Rocky has already learned how to harness his mood swings and make’em work in his favor – and I mean…fuuuuuuuck – LISTEN to this kickass jazzy beat he’s rockin’ with too on “Depressed,” will ya? That’s aces all around…like I’ve been tellin’ ya…this dude knows where his bread & butter is, and the beats that’ll get the best out of him on the mic… A/D-Rocky’s gonna be an unstoppable force very soon. Stay sharp on pronouncing those words though yo…”to get a ho wet is fuckin’ never…” Huh? Say what?
“Man I miss that family shit!” #WellTHATmakesoneofus. I’m about to move back across the country to where I originally came from and I’m fuckin’ TERRIFIED of having to deal with “that family shit” again – but hey homie, whatever floats your boat. I gotta admit – from the gritty DETAILS inside of “Closer Than Close” it sure as hell sounds like he probably SHOULDN’T “miss that family shit?” Again…we all feel how we feel…but I’d assume A/D-Rocky is going with a bit of sarcasm here in delivering that line…I could be mistaken…these are always just theories based on what I hear – but I am sincerely missing the part of his “family shit” that would be making him “miss” it – you follow me? Dude sounds like he needs to take a page outta my playbook and move the fuck across the country to get a BREAK from “that family shit” for a while…but hey…whatever works for ya. “Closer Than Close” is a pretty intense cut when it comes right down to it…you could write a whole term paper on this one track alone y’all…if you wanna really get to know A/D-Rocky & a lot of what has made him into the person/artist he is today, I highly suspect a lot of those details are found right here in this particular track. All theories aside, I can promise ya that “Closer Than Close” certainly ain’t gonna be the happiest cut you’ll hear this year…believe that. Oddly enough, the vibe itself is really solid stuff…sometimes we gotta dig deep into the personal to find things that wouldn’t come out in our music otherwise…this cut just hits different…chances are, because it’s real. That Spoken Word break around the 2:15 mark felt like we got a real glimpse into WHO A/D-Rocky is and what he’s really all about. He might be “a motherfuckin’ toxic-ass bitch,” but he’s a stand-up guy.
“Represent.” You know what I’m gonna say A/D-Rocky…watch that metering & flow yo. The best advice I can give ya…what I’ll tell ya that others just WON’T – is that YOU actually KNOW where ALL of these spots are. You know those moments where you get in the booth and something doesn’t quite seem right? Or those moments where it takes a whole bunch of takes to get that one cut right? That’s that extra syllable (and pride) fuckin’ with ya…add one, remove one, find a different word to fill the hole – don’t be afraid to rewrite something just a little bit if you gotta. No one’s saying that you gotta retool the entire track – but when a particular verse ain’t coming out quite right, chances are, there’s a reason. The thing is…as artists…as creators…we NEVER hear the 98% that went RIGHT – we hear the 2% that went WRONG…and homie, we hear it FOREVER once it’s recorded. There are some good ideas in “Represent” as it moves along – but that first minute & a half needs more time, practice, rhythm, and flow…and when it’s happening on a track that’s CALLED “Represent” we’re bound to notice that much more. It’s a fine line between what the average everyday listener will accept on a single spin to begin with – and it’s something else entirely when it comes to giving them that reason to return without hesitation…”Represent” could eventually be the track it’s meant to be…it just needs the Iverson treatment. “We talkin’ bout PRACTICE?” Why yes…yes sir…that’s exactly what I’m saying we need.
A/D-Rocky’s workin’ through some major aggression in this lineup of cuts…and it can be a lot. I’m a lover, not a fighter…so yeah…different worlds & all, but I can get where he’s coming from. “Pop Off” is a prime example of how he’ll go hard at the mic and get results…I still think he’s got room to sharpen it all up a bit & tighten those rhymes until they’re completely bulletproof, but he’s really damn close. I’ll put it to ya this way…it’s rare you hear a dude with the kind of starting blocks that A/D-Rocky has to build his empire with…just keep an ear on that diversity in the bars my friend, that’s what’ll lead you to victory. It’s good to have a signature style for sure…there’s identity in that, which counts for quite a bit in the music realm…like…I could throw A/D-Rocky onto a shuffled playlist & pick him out of a lineup no problem whatsoever – and that’s genuinely priceless. By that same token, too much of a good thing can be exactly that…at track eight of twelve, we’re well familiar with the fact that A/D-Rocky can rap in a high gear – but there’s much more to the game than that. Think of it this way…if you’re jamming every bar you hit with roughly the same amount of speed & syllables & whatnot, the differences you’ll find between each song become fewer and father between. I ain’t saying that I’ve got THE answers, I’m just objective because I’m way outside of the material…when you’re the creator, the artist & such, it’s so much harder to hear something how we’d hear it on our end of the speakers. You can hear the desire to do this and the passion required to get him to the top with his career…that shit counts for a lot in my world. I don’t expect everyone to bust straight outta the gate with undeniable fire that can’t be beat – all I wanna know is that this music thang MEANS SOMETHING to ya…”Pop Off” makes that crystal clear.
“Most High Cypher” you say A/D-Rocky? I AM THE HIGHEST – ALWAYS! The actual G.O.A.T. of being high, right here, typing out these words no matter how sideways I get – but THANKS FOR PLAYING. Now…I could be wrong here…but it sounds like A/D-Rocky’s enlisted some backup for this cut – it’s either that or he’s used a major filter on his vocals…but I’m hearing a whole different flow that I haven’t heard yet…coincidence? I think not. I know Freddy’s in the house…but I think there’s more than that trading the mic around with our main star of the show here – all-in-all though, this was a good move. Collaborating, flexing different skills, being exposed to unique flows separate from his own natural tendencies – these are the things that’ll help a young rapper continue to grow, and grow quickly. I’ll admit, originally, I was just fucking around like I always do with the whole “the actual G.O.A.T. of being high” & all…and as it turns out, that was really what this cut was more or less all about. Not necessarily via drugs as you’ll hear in the first verse…there are plenty of ways to get high in this world we share – and truthfully, the BEST way you can, is to fucking EXCEL in all that you do. “Most High Cypher” is one of those cuts where you can audibly hear the effect of working with others in action…it’s not a matter of pressure, so much as professionals doin’ their thing, inspired by each other to do it all the best they can. Whether that puts’em up there as the MOST HIGH, or just sounding really damn good together making music in the grip the cypher, crafting bars as they keep ya entertained…both are equally great things.
You’re putting your dick in where homie? How forcefully? Good lordy! Alright…again…different strokes for different folks & all… There’s some antiquated language & shit in there that exposes this as the early work of A/D-Rocky…”Rage!” is designed for shock value etc. etc., and for some, that might be the case. I’m older than dirt though bro…I’ve literally heard it all before, and it’d be tough to say that “Rage!” has really raised my pulse some…it’s kind of…yeah…early. Over time & experience, A/D-Rocky will likely use a few more words to get his points across…I don’t feel the need to call the guy out for this word or that word, he knows which ones are in there that are gonna raise the ire of the people out there listening – and chances are, for some, he will. Would I take a track like “Imperfect” or “Depressed” before listening to something like “Rage!?” – HELLLLLLLLLZ yes – but of course I would! I ain’t saying that there’s not a degree of art in here somewhere…there is…it’s just early life-angst coming out on the beat here…and if I’m being entirely honest with ya, A/D-Rocky has already proven & shown us he’s capable of so much more than what you’ll hear on “Rage!” that it’s basically impossible to give this the thumbs up if I’m being as objective as I should be. I don’t get offended – that’s impossible…I’m a music critic, so believe me when I tell ya, I’ve been called every name under the sun by people that don’t like what I have to say about their music, so truly, I’ve heard it all somewhere along the line…it don’t bother me none. What I really like about “Rage!” is the way that A/D-Rocky spits this one with the real fire inside him – it’s to the point where you wonder where THIS guy has been all along…but yeah…lyrically-speaking…I dunno. It’s dicey. It’s the kind of cut you’ll hear now from A/D-Rocky, and chances are, years from now, it’ll disappear online as he moves onto bigger & better things. His dick’s purple…he should get that checked.
Don’t get me wrong…clearly, A/D-Rocky’s got a chip he carries proudly on his shoulder – and much of that is explained over a Lupe Fiasco beat that he’s rockin’ with on “Kick Flip.” He’s made it plenty clear that he’s angry throughout the course of Walker…and from the sounds of things, based on the details of being in the system in foster care & shit, he’s got plenty of reasons to be mad. Harness that power though young blood…that’s the only advice I got for ya, which you’re free to take or leave of course. Foster care or not, just about every single one of us on this planet has plenty of good reasons to be downright PISSED from the time they get up to the time they go to bed…but this world my man…it’s truly whatever you wanna make of it, and you can start that process any time. No one says you gotta STAY pissed off, each and every day…it genuinely SOUNDS exhausting my dude. I’ll give him this though – he’s brought a dose of diversity to this particular cut, and the flow is dramatically different in a way that stands out. I don’t know that “Kick Flip” necessarily stands out as much as many of these other tracks tend to by comparison, but I do respect that he’s made a conscious decision to approach this cut differently and not just stuff it with every syllable that’ll fit. I felt like the main chorus hook was highly memorable though…that’s a positive…the stylistic swagger of A/D-Rocky finds its way to the surface.
Grabbin’ quite the twisted sample of “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” to finish it off…like I’ve been tellin’ ya, as I always do – I’m comfortable in my assessment of A/D-Rocky. Even INSIDE of the lyrics on his final cut on Walker, he’s basically telling you much of exactly what I’ve pointed out along the way – rap smarter, not harder yo. Turn that “Rage!” into something positive by excelling in your craft and doing it better than anyone else ever has – the potential is definitely there…it’s possible…it’s real for a guy with skills like A/D-Rocky has. “Misunderstood” works well as a conclusion…again, for an early record in his catalog, there’s not a doubt in my mind that he’s got all the right pieces required to succeed in this cutthroat music business…his dick skin is tough enough to withstand any slings and arrows that’ll come his way, and he’ll grow rapidly from any criticism if he plays his cards right. We’re all perpetual students of the game when it comes right down to it – it’s all about what we do with the gifts & talents we’ve got…he won’t be “Misunderstood” forever if he keeps his focus sharp & his eye on the prize. He’s already got skills that would make most emcees jealous…but the hustle never stops y’all – from here on in, it’s all about refining his skillset into cuts we can’t live without…Walker’s got pieces of the blueprint…the rest is all true grit & determination…after all we’ve heard, it’s clear he’s got plenty.
Listen to more music by A/D-Rocky at Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/chance-davis-202641419
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